ADELPHI, Md. -- The Army's corporate research laboratory selected two distinguished postdoctoral fellows to work side-by-side with its scientists and engineers to advance technology for the future warfighter in the areas of quantum information science and aqueous battery research.
The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory fellowships provide recipients the opportunity to pursue independent research of their own choosing that supports the mission of the laboratory. The participants benefit by being exposed to challenging Army problems.
The Army benefits from the potential transfer of new science and technology from up-and-coming leaders in their fields. The science and technology they bring is expected to enhance the capabilities of the U.S. Army and the warfighter in times of both peace and war, officials said.
The lab selected Dr. Lin Ma as the first ever ARL Dr. Brad E. Forch Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow.
The laboratory established this postdoctoral fellowship to honor an Army researcher who in addition to his outstanding technical accomplishments, had a reputation for broad expertise and a spirit of volunteerism. Forch passed away in 2018.
"My current research focuses on the development of a novel multi-valence ion battery," Ma said. "It is expected that this type of novel battery will provide the benefit of safety, longer lifetime and higher volumetric energy density. This means Soldiers will have smaller, longer-lasting and more powerful batteries without worrying about safety issues. For the Army, I think this would be important for enhancing Soldier survivability in the modern battlefield."
The title of Ma's research project is, A Battery That Could Change the World: Aqueous Mg Cell Chemistry.
Ma said he is eager to get his fellowship started.
"I heard about ARL probably 10 years ago," Ma said. "At that time, I was an undergraduate student and was very interested in science, especially battery research. When I read literature about battery research at that time, I realized lots of great work was done at ARL."
Getting the opportunity to conduct research as a distinguished fellow at the laboratory is an honor and a dream fulfilled, Ma said.
"It is definitely a huge honor for me," Ma said. "It is also a type of huge spiritual encouragement. I hope to get more useful work done at ARL with the support of the ARL Dr. Brad E. Forch Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship."
Ma noted that his selection gives him the resources to fully focus on his current research, supports him as it comes to attending relevant academic conferences, and will be a great chance to communicate with other scholars in his research field.
Ma will collaborate with Dr. Kang Xu, an ARL fellow and senior research chemist, during his three-year tenure.
"We hope that under the program, Lin can push the boundary of our knowledge in aqueous battery chemistries," Xu said. "He will expand our expertise in electrolytes and interphases into the arena of multiple ions, developing new materials and gaining new knowledge."
According to Xu, this fellowship gives Lin the resources and freedom in exploring these systems that are too risky for ordinary technical programs. If successful, Xu said, they will achieve new battery chemistries beyond Li-ion.
In addition to Ma, the laboratory selected Dr. Matthew Trusheim as the new ENIAC Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow.
ENIAC, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, was designed and constructed for the United States Army, Ordnance Corps, Research and Development Command. The construction contract was signed on June 5, 1943. Development began in secret at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering under the code name Project PX. Once completed, ENIAC was housed and run by the Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory, a forerunner laboratory of CCDC ARL.
"For me, this fellowship means that I have the support I need to pursue my proposed research and that the Army sees this work as something promising and valuable," Trusheim said.
The title of Trusheim's research project is High-fidelity Distributed Quantum Sensing in a Solid-state Platform.
Trusheim first heard about the lab while at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology working under Professor Dirk Englund. In 2015, the laboratory created an extramural research effort called the Center for Distributed Quantum Information that he participated in, and his current work is largely a follow-on to that.
Trusheim's project is basic research aimed towards a new class of sensors - distributed quantum sensors.
"These devices have the potential to measure quantities of interest, such as rotations (positioning), time (clocks/navigation) and electromagnetic fields, with sensitivities greater than what is possible with 'classical' sensors that don't use quantum effects like entanglement," Trusheim said. "The physical systems I use are defects in crystals - individual atoms of nitrogen that replace the usual carbon with a diamond, for example. Because the surrounding host crystal is so pure, these defects act like single atoms trapped in a complete vacuum and allow us to exploit their quantum properties in the laboratory."
There are a few directions in which Trusheim hopes to advance this system during his time as a distinguished postdoctoral fellow. First is using photonic structures to improve the sensors.
"We measure the quantum state of these defects using light, and by structuring the surrounding crystal on the length scale of light (hundreds of nanometers), we can enhance this measurement and so the performance of the sensor," Trusheim said.
The other direction, noted Trusheim, is to use light to entangle these defects at a distance (this is where the distributed comes in), and so perform quantum measurements of quantities that vary spatially.
"I'm excited to pursue this research with the support of ARL, and also to learn from a different perspective and approach on these topics under the ARL DPF," Trusheim said.
Trusheim will work from ARL-Northeast in Boston and will collaborate during his tenure with Dr. Fredrik Fatemi, chief of the lab's Quantum Technology Branch.
"Matthew has demonstrated impressive research in solid-state defects for quantum technologies," Fatemi said. "I am excited that he will have the opportunity to apply his knowledge of material systems directly to ARL foundational research questions in quantum entangled sensors."
According to Fatemi, this program offers a very attractive opportunity for top candidates to conduct high-impact research and potentially join the workforce long term. For example, the lab recently hired Dr. Kevin Cox, the lab's first ENIAC Fellow, as research staff following his tenure in the program.
"The selection of these remarkable fellows is a testament to ARL's desire to mentor and collaborate with budding young researchers to further enhance science and technology for the future Soldier," said Dr. Rose Pesce-Rodriguez, research chemist in the lab's Energetic Materials Science Branch and ARL Fellow. "We invite all exceptional young researchers to consider participating in this excitement as ARL Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellows."
Fellows must display extraordinary ability in scientific research and show clear promise of becoming outstanding leaders. Candidates are expected to have already successfully tackled a major scientific or engineering problem during their thesis work or to have provided a new approach or insight, evidenced by a recognized impact in their field.
Find out more about ARL Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowships by following the related link below.
CCDC Army Research Laboratory is an element of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command. As the Army's corporate research laboratory, ARL discovers, innovates and transitions science and technology to ensure dominant strategic land power. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.